Guwahati: Assam Congress sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s immediate intervention in resolving the Dehing Patkai-Dibru Saikhowa mining issue and reminded him of his duty to fulfil his promise of nature conservation. The opposition party to shoot an urgent letter to the Prime Minister.
Modi on Friday, on the occasion of World Environment Day, called on everyone to reiterate the pledge to ‘preserve the rich biodiversity of our planet’. The PM in his recent Mann Ki Baat session also spoke about the need for nature conservation.
In Guwahati, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) President Ripun Bora lambasted the ruling party over its alleged permission for mining in the protected Dehing Patkai rainforests and Dibru Saikhowa National Park areas in Upper Assam.
“APCC will send a letter to the PM via the Governor. Congress will not let any activities that can affect the protected areas. We oppose this move and will continue to launch protests if the mining projects are not scrapped. The PM must intervene,” Bora said.
The veteran leader informed that in 1973, the Indian government gave a lease to the Coal India Limited in 1972, which had expired in 2003. He said that the then Vajpayee government had urged the then Congress-led Assam Government to extend the lease, but the former Congress government here refused it then.
Bora alleged that after the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government took over the charge in 2016, it gave assent to open-mining in Dehing Patkai and hydrocarbon mining in the Dibru Saikhowa National Park and was subsequently cleared by the Environment and Mining Ministries.
“Sending the Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya to investigate is a gimmick when Sonowal himself had given his assent to the Centre’splan. It’s a double standard of BJP government and Congress will thwart BJP’s any such approach against nature’s conservation,” Bora asserted.
Referring to a 2019 letter written by the Director of Geology and Mining to the Tinsukia district administration, Bora alleged that 18 people who were named as illegal coal smugglers in the letter continued to be scot-free.
“The other day, Minister Chandramohan Patowary claimed that there will be no loss to flora and fauna. They have permitted 98.58 hectares of Saleki to be dug up for mining. It is a part of Dehing Patkai. Thus, mining done there will surely impact the adjoining areas adversely,” said Bora who recently underwent a quarantine session after his return from New Delhi.
On Tuesday, Northeastern Coalfields, Margherita, in a release, clarified that coal mining operations in Tikak have been suspended since October 2019 on the directive of the Assam forest department and that it was awaiting a stage II clearance from the ministry.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal urged upon the people of Assam to take a pledge to devote time for nature and work to preserve the ecology and increase the green cover of the state.
Participating in the celebration of World Environment Day at Chakardo in Rani, Sonowal said, “Assam government is very clear in its objective to make the state a bio-diversity hot-spot and set the objective to transform Assam into a pollution-free state in the year 2016. Therefore, our government is working assiduously on this front and planting saplings to increase the green coverage to make Assam a zero-pollution state”.